December 22, 2014
Silly South Americans. We in the civilized North America figured out apes were human beings following the civil war, nearly two centuries ago.
In an unprecedented decision, an Argentine court has ruled that the Sumatran orangutan ‘Sandra’, who has spent 20 years at the zoo in Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires, should be recognized as a person with a right to freedom.
The ruling, signed by the judges unanimously, would see Sandra freed from captivity and transferred to a nature sanctuary in Brazil after a court recognized the primate as a “non-human person” which has some basic human rights. The Buenos Aires zoo has 10 working days to seek an appeal.
The “habeas corpus” ruling in favor of the orangutan was requested last November by the Association of Professional Lawyers for Animal Rights (AFADA) alleging that Sandra suffered “unjustified confinement of an animal with proven cognitive ability.”
Lawyers argued that just as a person, the ape is capable of maintaining emotional ties and has the ability to reason, while feeling frustrated with her confinement. Furthermore, the legal team claimed that the 29-year old orangutan can make decisions, has self-awareness and perception of time. And therefore, all things considered, Sandra’s presence at the Zoo constituted illegal deprivation of liberty.
Habeas corpus is a fundamental legal term in human rights, dating back to the early fourteenth century during the reign of Edward I in England. At that time courts began requiring the monarchy to report the reasons behind restricted freedom of a subject.
“This opens the way not only for other Great Apes, but also for other sentient beings which are unfairly and arbitrarily deprived of their liberty in zoos, circuses, water parks and scientific laboratories,” the daily La Nacion newspaper quoted AFADA lawyer Paul Buompadre as saying.
Seriously here though – I did always feel bad for a lot of zoo animals.
I think some of them are way too intelligent to be in cages, or they are just suffering from it in a way that is unfair. Obviously, most zoos now (in civilized countries) have moved into the angle that they are conservation organizations, protecting endangered species with captivity, and I think this is valid.
You know what isn’t unethical though: aquariums. Fish could definitely care less.
They are also way more fun to look at.
Have you guys seen the one in Atlanta?
Bloody brilliant, mate.